Juliana Leon Makes History
“Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, August 6 of 1945, and “Fat Man” was dropped on Nagasaki three days later. About 220,000 people died. World War II was this year’s theme for the Academic Decathlon. The construction of Little Boy and Fat Man required interest in nuclear physics which Juliana Leon eagerly talked about.
“Out of the subjects, I was most interested in the science portion and learning about nuclear physics.” Senior, Juliana Leon said. “…both math and science section were my game.” Her interests were mostly focused on the Manhattan project and the creation of Fat Man and Little Boy because it combined American history and science. She became interested in nuclear physics when she was enrolled in Honors Physics including “…[having] an amazing teacher like Philip Howden.” Even though she did not medal in the science category, she scored perfect during the interview part of the competition.
Based on last year’s experience, Leon knew that “…they were going to ask random questions from last years [interview], so [she] realized that the only tool you can really have is your confidence.” She also received tips from her coach, English teacher Ian Fleming.
As she headed to the Office of Education, she masked her face with confidence, and when she sat in front of the judges her blood rushed to her head. Then she reminded herself to calm down and that she will get through this. During her interview she felt in a natural environment after a few questions and was being herself throughout the interview, except moments where her language changed from casual to sophisticated. Juliana felt excited and proud, recounting when she walked into the break room to tell her coach that she won gold. and that she scored perfect in her interview, the first perfect score in academic decathlon competition, a first in Madera High history.